I went racing on Saturday. It shouldn’t be a big deal, but these days I tend to prefer the comforts of home and watching things unfold on Trackside. Of course, watching Trackside brings with it a number of challenges, but that’s a whole other blog topic!
Anyway, before dragging myself (reluctantly) to Te Rapa I first headed to the hairdressers for a little bit of pampering. Conversation with one of the young girls working led to what “plans” I had for the remainder of the day and I ‘fessed up that I was going racing.
I am always intrigued when bringing up the topic of racing as to what the reaction is going to be. Given I was in the Tron I was half expecting she might think it was some form of motor racing which was going to grab my attention. But not this smart cookie. She was stunned to discover that racing at Te Rapa was a fairly regular occurrence and thought it was only held “on special occasions.”
She was fascinated too, to discover that in the winter, racing could also include jumping races. We chatted about her last experience racing at Te Rapa – a Christmas at the Races event – where she went with workmates and had a fabulous day.
She told me about her boss dividing them into three teams with each team aiming to see who could get the best result from their $50 betting fund. Despite the two other teams having among their number someone with racing knowledge, it was her team of newbies who ran out the winners. She raved about the fun, the colour and the fact it was a really memorable day which she wouldn’t mind repeating if she knew when the races were being held!
The upshot being, she was pretty much a racing convert ripe for the picking and, somehow we (the racing industry) failed to capitalise on that.
I know from past committee involvement that the Racing Board has employed people to maraud the course at the Festival of Summer racing events and extract email contact details. Does this not happen at the Christmas at the Races functions? Are we missing a trick?
Lord knows, it is hard enough to convince people of the fun which can be had during a day at the races. But why, when we have them there and they are obviously having a good time have we not found some way to connect with them so we can let them know about future events?
It also demonstrates how far off the radar racing events are when it comes to connecting with millennials and the like. Old school advertising might remind your old school clients that an event is forthcoming but even they are relying on different forms of media when it comes to getting information.
Clubs shouldn’t kid themselves that Facebook is the way forward either. Most of the millennials I know have abandoned Facebook to their midster parents and prefer the hashtag-laden environment of Instagram.
Instead of sitting back and congratulating themselves on “embracing” social media, racing clubs and indeed the Racing Board, should be looking forward – maybe aligning themselves with, or even creating, an event app which gives the industry a new profile.
Of course, we still have a heap of work to do to ensure the events they turn up to, outside of those Racing Board promoted “occasion” race days, measure up to the expectations established there. Uphill battle?